Tennessee has a strong bond with Texas. The two states are practically cousins.
Much of the early history of our two states was written by the same people — rugged individualists who had a hankering to keep moving west.
Two of these were politicians and their last names — Crockett and Houston — can still be found today on buildings, highway signs and historical markers in Tennessee and Texas.
Northeast Tennessee is where the legend of David Crockett began. Crockett was born in Limestone in 1786 and raised on the Nolichucky River. We know from our history books that Crockett was a backwoodsman, soldier and colorful orator.
We also know he was a man who couldn’t stay put in one place for very long. Crockett would eventually make his way to West Tennessee. There, he was elected to the state General Assembly in 1821, and later to U.S. House of Representatives as an ally of President Andrew Jackson.
Historians say he lost re-election to his seat in Congress after he opposed his mentor’s despicable policies on Indian removal.
His fierce independent streak (some called it stubbornness) led him to join former Tennessee Gov. Sam Houston in the fight to free Texas from Mexico.
It was at the Alamo that Crockett, along with the other doomed defenders of the old Spanish mission, achieved immortality.
There is no disputing that Crockett was a strong-willed and self-made man. He earned a reputation as a man of the ordinary people — farmers, frontiersmen and shopkeepers who were not counted among the landed gentry.
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Houston’s life story is similar to that of Crockett’s. Both were political disciples of Jackson and both had a falling out with Old Hickory over the forced relocation of the Cherokee.
And both left Tennessee for Texas after experiencing a political humiliation.
Houston was born in 1793 on his family’s plantation in Rockbridge County, Virginia. Houston later settled in Blount County, Tennessee, and became close with the Cherokee.
He served as a soldier during the War of 1812, where he caught the eye of Gen. Andrew Jackson.
Houston was elected to Congress in 1822 as a Jacksonian Democrat and in 1827 he was elected governor of Tennessee. He resigned from office less than three years later when his young bride left him just days after their wedding.
Some historians have speculated his wife was unprepared to deal with a delicate injury that Houston suffered in battle years before their marriage. Regardless of his wife’s true reason for leaving him, Houston’s political opponents spread rumors that he was a drunkard and a philanderer.
Saddened by the loss of his wife, Houston spent time with the Cherokee before remaking himself in Texas. There he became the general who helped Texas win its independence from Mexico.
Houston would also be elected the first president of the Republic of Texas and later a U.S. senator representing Texas when it was annexed by the United States.
He ended his political career as governor of Texas.